International Graduate Level Sustainable ICT Course

Tom Worthington

Motivation & Objectives

Address shortage of courses on "green" sustainable information and communications technology (ICT).

Multidisciplinary approach: computer science, software engineering, electrical engineering, information systems, environmental science and management.

Produce students who can estimate the carbon footprint of an organisation and communicate it informally and formally to management.

The topic of "sustainable", "environmental" or "green" ICT have in recent years attracted interest from both industry and academia. Despite this there are few sustainable ICT courses being taught at universities throughout the world.

Sustainable ICT is multi-disciplinary and draws from fields such as computer science, software engineering, electrical engineering, information systems, environmental science and management.

The objective is to have the students familiar with the terminology and techniques so they can estimate and make written recommendations on the carbon footprint of an organisation. The students need to be able to discuss the issues with their peers and write formal reports for management.


Course commissioned for the Australian Computer Society Computer Professional Education Program in 2008, accredited internationally by IP3.

Emphasis on practical aspects: students investigate Green ICT their own workplace.

Practical progressive assessment (no examinations):

  • Weekly on-line forum using Moodle to discuss issues (20% of assessment),

  • Mid and end of semester assignments about green ICT in the workplace (80% of assessment).

  • Revised and offered by the Australian National University in July 2009.

    One major challenge when teaching sustainable techniques is that students will have different backgrounds. Emphasis was placed on practical aspects with the two assignments for the course requiring the student to address sustainable ICT issues in a real organisation, preferably one where they worked.

    To give experience in discussing the issues, the students used an on-line text based forum. As an incentive to keep up with the work, 20% of the assessment was for weekly forum contributions, with the balance for mid and end of course assignments. No examinations were used.

    In 2008 the Australian Computer Society commissioned the design of a Green ICT course1 to be delivered using mentored and collaborative e-Learning2. The course was first run in February 2009 as part of the ACS Computer Professional Education Program (CPEP)3. The program uses Internet delivered e-learning, via the Moodle open source Learning Management System. Students are assessed on their contribution to group discussions and assignments. The CPEP is a postgraduate masters level program leading to Certified Professional (CP) status, accredited by the International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3)4.

    The ACS allowed the course materials for Green ICT to be released under a Creative Commons open access license. A book of course notes5 was distributed free on line as well as a print and e-book.

    The Australian National University offered a revised version of the course6 in July 2009. The course was offered on-line to in the Graduate Studies Select program7, as well as on-campus full and part time students.

    One of the former students of the ANU course adapted the material for North America8.

    Key Results

    Summary & Conclusions

    A graduate level on-line Sustainable ICT Course run for the first time in 2009 as part of a global professional training program and later at an Australian and a North American university. A mixed class of full and part time students worked well.


    1 ACS 2009. Green Technology Strategies URL:

    2 Lindley, D. 2007 Computer Professional Education using Mentored and Collaborative Online Learning. IJCIM Special Issues on e-learning. Vol.15 No. SP4, November. URL:

    3 ACS 2002. Computer Professional Education Program. URL:

    4 IP3 2009. Accredited Societies, International Professional Practice Partnership. URL:

    5 Worthington, T 2009. Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions, Tomw Communications. URL:

    6 ANU 2009. Green Information Technology Strategies COMP7310, Graduate Studies Select program. URL:

    7 ANU 2011. Graduate Studies Select program. URL:

    8 Stewart, B. 2009. Green ICT Strategies (COMP 635), Athabasca University, Canada. URL:


    Green IT; Cloud Computing; eScholarship; Learning Environments; Sustainable ICT education; postgraduate studies; climate change; greenhouse gas emissions

    More Information

    This is a poster for CCA-EDUCAUSE Australasia 2011, 4 April 2011:

    Notes are available with more detail:

    Contact the author:
    Telephone: 0419 496150

    About the author

    Tom Worthington is an independent IT consultant. He is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University, a Visiting Scientist in the CSIRO ICT Centre and a tutor for the Australian Computer Society.

    International Graduate Level Sustainable ICT Course by Tom Worthington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.